17.09.19 RTÉ reforms should not worsen existing regional imbalances – Senator Rónán Mullen

Independent NUI Senator Rónán Mullen said today he was confident that attempts to introduce significant cost reform measures within the State broadcaster could be achieved without RTE undermining its regional public service remit.

Senator Mullen was responding to statements from RTÉ to the effect that it is actively considering the sale of its Leeside studio in Cork as part of a radical overhaul of its production operations outside the capital.

“The announcement by RTE headquarters with respect to the possible sale of its Cork studio struck me as being a calculated act of limited self-preservation for a model of operations that is already excessively Dublin-centric.

There is already a significant disparity in how the regions beyond Dublin are served.

This is true across a range of sectors and is not just limited to ‘traditional’ forms of broadcasting. We have only to think of the fractured and limited broadband availability nationwide to see that this is the case.

Attempts to introduce proportionate pay reform and cost reduction measures should not further entrench or expand those inequalities.

As I understand it, the Head of RTÉ Cork has said that the studio is one of the most ambitious and cost-effective producers of programmes in RTÉ.

If such is the case, it only strengthens the case for RTE headquarters to look beyond its attempts to undermine or remove regional services before it considers proposals like those I put forward last week about linking pay scales to public service rates.

No one is disputing that difficult structural challenges are coming for RTÉ.

What we need to ensure however is that we transition to the new model while maintaining a regional presence that is cost-effective and publicly engaging, as the Cork Studio gives every evidence of being,” Senator Mullen concluded.